You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nielsen’s New Digital Test Has Big TV Chasing Elusive Viewers

As potatoes decamp from the couch, industry struggles to monitor their behavior

The TV industry is taking a small step towards catching up with the consumption patterns of its audience, who are increasingly making use of digital technology to watch their favorite programs.

Nielsen and a coterie of TV networks – A+E, ABC, AOL, CBS, The CW, Discovery Communications, FOX, NBC and Univision – have agreed to take part in a  pilot for what Nielsen calls its digital program ratings that will tabulate overnight data for unique audience, stream counts and reach by age and gender for TV programming viewed online.

The test does not take into account people who watch TV via mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets – meaning that no matter how successful the idea is, it will not capture a viewer behavior that is on the rise and growing.

Nielsen already has a means for measuring online viewership, but its technology requires the TV program being viewed to have the exact same “load” of advertising as the program when it was broadcast on the traditional living-room TV. With that mandate built in, Nielsen can then determine how many people watched the commercials within three days’ of the show airing, the bedrock of the current means of determining “commercial ratings” that determine how sponsors pay TV nets.

Yet sitting through a TV ad break – complete with local ads, network promos and more – isn’t part of the culture of online viewing. When Hulu was first unveiled, short ad interruptions – consisting sometimes of just one or two ads from the same sponsors across the length of the show – were part of its  aesthetic. However sites such as Hulu or ABC.com have experimented (or been prodded by their backers) into adding more commercials.

The new Nielsen test seems to recognize that ads are served online in significantly different fashion than they are on TV. In many cases online, “ads are digitally inserted and they can be addressed to the end user based on some kind of knowledge of who they are,” said Eric Solomon, senior veep for global digital audience measurement at Nielsen, in an interview. The model is one “that, frankly, many or most of our clients are pursuing as a primary means of monetizing their digital content.”

Even so, online viewers may not see any fewer ads than they do when they watch TV. Solomon said the networks are “starting to package the same number of ads” online as they do on TV. They’re just serving them up differently.

Nielsen already publishes data that helps advertisers determine how their ads and ad campaigns are viewed online. The new digital ratings would help TV nets monitor the number of people consuming their programs, and the two sets of data could be used at some point in the future to devise ratings guarantees and, therefore, ad prices, Solomon said. “We believe this will allow our clients to go down that path,” he said.

More TV

  • 'Saturday Night Live' Offers Prayers for

    'Saturday Night Live' Offers Prayers for Trump (Watch)

    “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kate McKinnon resumed her role as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in the Dec. 7 episode to offer a few prayers for Donald Trump. During the “Weekend Update” segment, co-anchor and “SNL” co-head writer Colin Jost first commented on Pelosi being asked if she hated President Trump during her [...]

  • Spongebob Squarepants Mr Kiasu

    Singapore Comiccon: Spongebob Squarepants Collides With Local Character Mr Kiasu

    Enormously popular Nickelodeon character, SpongeBob SquarePants is 20 this year. To commemorate the anniversary Nickelodeon commissioned Singaporean artist Johnny Lau, creator of iconic local animated character Mr Kiasu, to draw a coffee table book converging the wildly diverse worlds of the two. Lau released the book “Mr Kiasu Meets SpongeBob SquarePants” at the Singapore ComicCon [...]

  • America's Got Talent Simon Cowell

    Simon Cowell Lawyers Up From Abroad as 'America's Got Talent' Investigation Begins (EXCLUSIVE)

    “America’s Got Talent” executive producer Simon Cowell has set his legal representation for an investigation into the NBC competition series, which was announced by the network this week after a lengthy meeting with ousted judge Gabrielle Union. Cowell has hired Larry Stein, a longtime litigator in Hollywood and media spaces, multiple individuals familiar with the [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds' Aviation Gin Hijacks 'Peloton

    Ryan Reynolds Hijacks 'Peloton Wife,' Wrings New Buzz From Old Ad Trick

    The “Peloton Wife” is on the verge of striking up a new relationship outside her marriage The actress who plays the controversial Madison Avenue figure in a commercial for the luxury physical-fitness company is back in a new ad campaign – for another marketer that has little to do with promoting a healthy lifestyle. Aviation [...]

  • Shefali Shah in Delhi Crime

    'Delhi Crime’ Wins Big at Asian Academy Creative Awards

    Richie Mehta’s harrowing Netflix series “Delhi Crime” was the big winner at the 2nd annual Asian Academy Creative Awards in Singapore on Friday. Representing the show, lead actress Shefali Shah was rushed off her feet as she repeatedly had to return to the stage. “Delhi Crime” earned her best actress in a leading role, best [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content